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Nearby Attractions in East Lansing

Inspired by the local curiosity of MSU students and alumni alike, East Lansing has a variety of intriguing museums, parks and theaters. Explore the green-laden parks and stunning beaches of Hawk Island, or drinks and live entertainment in the Wharton Center. Looking to experience all of MSU’s glory? Head over to the University’s museum and discover over one million unique artifacts that you won’t see anywhere else.

Wherever you go in East Lansing, you’re sure to find authentic entertainment and endless things to do. Here’s four of the top museums and attractions to experience in East Lansing. 


Wharton Center for the Performing Arts

You never know what’ll take the stage at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, an East Lansing favorite for show tunes and sold out crowds. Each new season brings Broadway favorites as well as intimate concerts and family-friendly performances. Though Wharton Center’s rich history in performing arts reaches all the way back to 1939, their offerings are remarkably modern, blending the most popular shows of today with more close-to-home educational experiences. 

Spring for a season pass so you won’t miss a show or simply buy a ticket for a night at the theater while you’re in town. No matter how many times you’ve visited the Wharton Center, you’ll always find reasons to return.

Insider Tip

If you’re an MSU student, make sure to go for College Nights at Wharton, when the center is reserved exclusively for Spartans.

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Michigan State University Museum

Walk the halls of the earliest established museum in the United States: the Michigan State University Museum. Nearly a million artifacts from around the world line the museum’s shelves and exhibits, spanning anthropology, natural science, folk arts, and history. Get up close to everything from life-sized habitat dioramas to an exhibit on the Great Lakes’ economic roots. 

Beyond the rich exhibitions true to its Michigan roots, MSU Museum also houses priceless collections of materials that are thousands of years old and from places far and wide. Soak up the cultural and natural spirit of artifacts you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Insider Tip

Check out the Ichthyology Research Collection of marine and freshwater specimens. 1,100 of them were collected from the Red Cedar River, which flows through campus!

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Michigan State University Broad Art Museum

The MSU Broad Art Museum is always free, yet many of their exhibitions are priceless. Some works pack a punch through color, others plant the seeds of cultural and artistic revolutions. Be transported through photography, painting, sculpture, and more, all flawlessly displayed throughout the museum’s sunny and spacious galleries.

Almost as unique as the artworks themselves, the museum’s special events invite visitors to see art in a new light—literally. Step into Night at the Museum, cultivate the skills to make works of your own, or hear from an artist whose creations hang right here at the Broad Art Museum.

Insider Tip

Stop by on Friday, Saturday or Sunday and your admission is always free.

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Hawk Island Park

Get out and enjoy some of the gorgeous parks Michigan has to offer at Hawk Island County Park. Located on Cavanaugh Road in East Lansing, the 100acre park offers a swimming beach, picnic areas and shelters, 1.5 miles of paved walkways, fishing docks and a community-built playground.

Not only is the beautiful outdoor space perfect for a day of family fun, it’s also dog-friendly. Check out Soldan Dog Park, an off-leash dog park adjacent to hawk Island full of space for your pooch to play.

Insider Tip

In the winter, head to Hawk Island for snow tubing.

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Hawk Island Park

Rotary Park at the Lansing Riverfront

East Lansing revolves around the Grand River, which flows through the heart of downtown. As the name suggests, Rotary Park at the Lansing Riverfront’s plaza, beach, lighted forest, and more all sidle up to the river itself. It’s also located just west of the Lansing City Market, so you can swing by the market, peruse some shops, then stroll the banks of the meandering Grand River. 

Grab a picnic table on a sunny day, catch a show at The HUB, Lansing’s newest outdoor performance venue, or walk beneath the enchanting twinkly lights at dusk.

Insider Tip

 Launch your kayak from the park and cruise down the Grand River.

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